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Breaking with Tradition: Online Learning Makes the Grade at Peterborough-Lakefield

Online learning has become an essential component of Peterborough Lakefield Community Police Service's mandatory training model. In an effort to sidestep scheduling issues, maximize training ROI, and enhance the overall quality of training opportunities, PLCPS is now conducting 20% of its mandatory training online. It's a move that's getting positive reviews from frontline members and administrators alike.

Like any police service, PLCPS admits that balancing the policing needs of the communities it serves with compulsory officer training can be a complex issue.

"Taking members off the road and getting them into the classroom has both logistical and operational implications," says Chief Murray Rodd. "Increasing our online learning capacity has provided the flexibility, affordability, and value needed to effectively manage critical training requirements and the day-to-day demands of the job."

PLCPS senior management and training staff first began to pursue more innovative training solutions in 2009. At that time, a collective agreement with the PLCPS Police Association mandated that all officers complete 40 hours (over five days) of training each year, including three days of classroom training. In 2010, based on a recognized need for a more efficient model and an informed acquaintance with CPKN and the benefits of online learning, a new agreement was negotiated. Under the new model, the three classroom days were reworked into one classroom day, one conference day (with a keynote speaker and training session options), and eight hours of online training.

"It's a win-win situation," says S/Sgt. Lynne Buehler who heads up the PLCPS Training Unit. "Our members really appreciate the integrated approach and the convenience of the online component. On the admin side, we've significantly reduced the staffing issues associated with a largely classroom-based curriculum."

Depending on identified needs within PLCPS, the configuration of the online training block varies from year to year. In some years it may be completely mandated; in other years, members may have the option to select some of their courses (subject to approval of the Training Sergeant). Either way, the training is conducted on members' personal time (for which they are compensated with annual leave), according to their own schedule.

"The autonomous nature of online training is proving very popular with our members," says S/Sgt. Buehler. "In fact, we've achieved a 98.6% compliance rate and some officers actually request additional courses beyond the required allotment."



"The autonomous nature of online training is proving very popular with our members… we've achieved a 98.6% compliance rate and some officers actually request additional courses beyond the required allotment."

To facilitate the online component of the training requirements, PLCPS invested in a virtual learning portal via CPKN. This not only provided members with easy access to their courses but also created a personalized learning environment and the opportunity to share training with other police services. PLCPS also purchased several laptops that officers may sign out to do their online coursework.

"Online learning has not only improved the way we deliver training but has enhanced the quality of the training our officers receive," concludes S/Sgt Buehler. "CPKN has been a big part of making that happen - both in terms of advice and technical know-how. Together, we've created a solution that works."